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Lettuce Season!!!!

Here at Urban Desert Garden, winter doesn’t mean time to rest. We keep the garden going in full swing and in turn end up with more lettuce than we could possibly eat. This year, we have also been very successful with growing 3 different varieties of Kale, 3 varieties of Swiss Chard and also some Asian greens like Pac Choi and Komatsuna.  We have all of it available for sale as well.

We also started most of our summer seeds this past month as well. Planting in the ground starts the first week of March, so by starting the seeds indoors now, we will be able to hit the ground running with strong, healthy plants in March.

Here are some pictures from the last week or so. ImageImage

Welcome Back!

Sorry we’ve been gone so long! After a long break, we are going to try and keep up with the blog a bit better. We now have a facebook business page to let you know pricing, recipes, etc. The winter garden is in full swing and lettuce is more than prolific this year. Looking forward to keeping you up to date!

Harvest-Mania!!!!

Brandon and I have been recording every single item  that we have harvested from the garden and we are absolutely amazed at the amount of food that can be produced in such a small space. The purpose of this post is to show you what can be produced in your own back yard over the course of six months with optimal growing conditions.  Our first harvest was on April 6th of 2011 and this includes everything up to today.

We’ll start with the tomatoes. We planted 9 “Uncle Mark Bagby” beefsteak style tomato plants, 3 Royal Chico roma-style tomatoes, 10 San Marzano Lungo #2 plants, 1 Super Sioux, 1 Yellow Taxi plant, 1 Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato plant and 1 Yellow Pear plant. The following are the weights of each variety:

Uncle Mark Bagby: 14,772 grams (32.57lbs)

Royal Chico: 1,460grams (3.22lbs)

San Marzano: 3,384 grams (7.46lbs)

Super Sioux: 773 grams (1.70lbs)

Yellow Taxi: 483.02 grams (106lbs)

Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes: 267 tomatoes total

Yellow Pear Tomato: 26 tomatoes total

TOMATO TOTAL WEIGHT: 20,872 grams plus 293 cherry/pear tomatoes  (46.01lbs)

DAIKON RADISH: 5,143.74grams (11.34lbs)

CINCINNATI MARKET RADISH: 453.6grams (1.00lbs)

NERO TONDO RADISH: 1,587.6grams (3.5lbs)

RADISH TOTAL WEIGHT: 7,184.94 grams (15.84lbs)

ARTICHOKES TOTAL WEIGHT: 2,518.72 grams (5.55lbs)

PAC CHOI TOTAL WEIGHT: 567 grams (1.25lbs)

KOMATSUNA ASIAN GREENS TOTAL WEIGHT: 9,979 grams (22lbs)

TENDERSWEET CABBAGE TOTAL WEIGHT: 8,618 grams (18.99lbs)

SNAP PEAS TOTAL WEIGHT: 184.27 grams (.41lbs)

PARISIENNE CARROT TOTAL WEIGHT: 425.04 grams (.94lbs)

JAPANESE EGGPLANT TOTAL WEIGHT: 2,459.7 grams (5.46lbs)

BLACK BEAUTY ZUCCHINI TOTAL WEIGHT: 16,276.96 grams (35.88lbs)

GREEN BEAN TOTAL WEIGHT: 672.39 grams (1.48lbs)

PURPLE BEAN TOTAL WEIGHT: 175.36 grams (.39lbs)

TASTY JADE CUCUMBER TOTAL WEIGHT: 1,384.89 grams (3.05lbs)

PICKLE CUCUMBER: 971.57 grams (2.14lbs)

EUREKA HYBRID CUCUMBER: 1,498 grams (3.3lbs)

BROWN ONIONS: 1,670.42 grams (3.68lbs)

 

TOTAL GARDEN HARVEST WEIGHT: 82,643.20 grams (182.20 lbs)

 

 

 

 

Artichokes

In February, on one of our many Saturday morning Lowes dates, we bought a Green Globe Artichoke plant.  Being from Ohio, we have never seen an artichoke plant, nor knew anything about growing them.  I had always assumed that you got one bud from each plant and that they were impossible to grow, this was due to their seemingly unreasonable price at the grocery store.   How wrong I was…

Two-fers

Four months later a mammoth, handsome, sprawling, silvery green plant took over the whole end of one of our beds.  The plant itself is easily five feet across and the number of artichoke buds that it is producing is becoming almost problematic.  Last count, we easily had more than 24 chokes.  The first one being huge, and we even cut it early!  Successive smaller chokes are starting to emerge from the stem of the first large choke.

As for maintenance?  Not much.  A well draining soil (which we have plenty of out here) some bone and blood meal, a little sulfur, and organic steer manure.  The only thing that we did was add a few heaping shovels of compost on it and kept it watered.  You will be hiding artichokes in every nook and cranny in your fridge door in no time!

To cook, cut the chokes in half (they can be left whole as well) and steam for 25 minutes in an inch of water.  Then drizzle with olive oil, s&p, garlic and a little lemon pepper.  Finish in a hot cast iron skillet in the clay oven at about 550 for 10 minutes.  In our house, they last about a minute once they hit the table and leave us shivering in the corner of the room wanting more.  A damn fine vegetable that rivals the taste of a rich seafood.

Learning and growing, learning and growing…

Hello all, it’s Tina.

I have been thinking a lot about what this garden means to me and what it shows us about the rest of our culture these days. We had a new friend over yesterday evening and he brought his 2 kids with him (ages 7 and 9 approx.).   I was amazed at the excitement of the kids, but yet puzzled by the lack of interest in the plants and the huge interest in the chickens. It was as if the plants were just landscaping, something to walk through to get to the more exciting chickens. I suppose I can understand this excitement though, it’s not everyday that you get to see a chicken in a backyard.  But then I started thinking…most of the questions that kids ask when they are around the yard are the same questions that adults ask. When did we start becoming so detached from how things grow or what happens when chickens lay eggs? I feel a little bit behind on some of the questions too, but I try to take time to read and learn about the process. I only wish that I had grown up in a time when this was just how people lived. You grew what you ate, raised your own meat, knew how to slaughter and butcher, can and preserve, dry and ferment. On the flipside of that coin though, I am stoked to be learning now and it makes it that much better so I don’t just take the knowledge for granted.

When I was growing up, I remember helping my grandmother in the garden with green beans and zucchini. I remember peeling the green beans at the kitchen table and the pots on the stove for canning. I remember devouring zucchini bread with great affection as well. I don’t really remember the shoveling and the mess and the sweat that come with playing in the yard though, as I suppose it didn’t matter then.  Those memories are dear to me and I am glad that I had even the smallest awareness of how things grew.  Then I think about how Brandon grew up.  He had chickens, corn, rows of tomatoes and beans and even a horse or 2 I believe. He has years of experience on me, but there are still things that he sees the wonder in now in our yard. He’s never seen an artichoke grow or grown the variety of green corn we have in the yard. He’s never had to worry about water and irrigation, but gets excited over how our drip lines were installed so easily and are working so well.

The garden in our yard is always new and exciting to me. I love to watch the journey our plants take as they grow, almost like watching a child grow. I have taken to heading out to the beds in the morning while the light is still gentle and warm and take photographs of the baby fruits and vegetable. I love knowing that each day, something will be different than the day it was before.  Watching a baby pumpkin plant pop through the soil is magical!

I wish that everyone could experience this like I’m getting to experience it now. I hope that I keep finding it as exciting and new each year that we grow something. We spent an hour last night going through the seed catalogs again picking out the seeds for our next planting season this fall.

I’m attaching some of my favorite new photos of young plants. I find such wonder in the process and can’t wait to reap the benefits.

Tomato update

TOMATOES! (Solanum lycopersicum).  Certainly one of my (Brandon) favorite things to grow ever!  Originally from South America, Spanish colonizers dispersed them from the Americas in the 1500’s.  The plant was thought to be poisonous because it is a member of the deadly night shade family Solanaceae.  It took nearly another hundred or more years in Europe before being considered for consumption and not as an ornamental.  A perennial in frost free areas but for most of us a favorite summer fruit (and yes it is a fruit).

In our garden, we have a dedicated plot for most of our tomatoes and our zeal for this fun fruit lead us to plant nearly 30 plants and 7 different varieties.  This year we are growing: sweet 100 cherries (1), super Sioux (orange) (1), yellow pear (1), yellow taxi (almost orange in colour) (1), Uncle Mark Bagby (large flavourful pink beefsteak) (9), royal chico (roma) (4), and the famous San Marzano lungo No. 2 (10).

Seed germination started on January 15th inside in plastic with Jiffy seed starter mix and a thermal blanket hot pad.  A month later we started another round in seed pellet trays.  Around March 12th due to our temperate climate we were able to transplant into our beds outdoors.  Fast forward to today (April, 25th) we are beginning to see a few small fruits on all the varieties and spent most of yesterday installing stakes and pruning.  Most of the plants are over 3 feet tall and are full of flowers.  For the vining varieties we prune to 3-4 main stems and continue to trellis up our stakes and for the bush varieties we are trying to keep at most 4 main stems.  Each plant receives a shovel full of home made compost every two weeks and our drip irrigation is set to two 1 hour sessions at 9 am and 4 pm everyday.